Reconstitution of functionally active Thermus aquaticus large ribosomal subunits with in vitro-transcribed rRNA

Philipp Khaitovich, Tanel Tenson, Patricia Kloss, Alexander S. Mankin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Functionally active large ribosomal subunits of thermophilic bacterium Thermus aquaticus have been assembled in vitro from ribosomal proteins and either natural or in vitro-transcribed 23S rRNA and 5S rRNA. Sedimentation properties of reconstituted subunits were similar to those of native ribosomal 50S subunits. Subunits reconstituted with in vitro-transcribed rRNAs exhibited high activity in the peptidyl transferase assay and in a poly(U)-dependent cell-free translation system (22 and 30%, respectively, compared to that of native 50S subunits). Catalytic activity of reconstituted subunits critically depended on the presence of 5S rRNA. rRNA mutations known to affect functions of the native ribosome produced similar effects in reconstituted T. aquaticus 50S subunits. Subunits assembled with in vitro- transcribed T. aquaticus 23S rRNA containing the G2267A mutation (G2252A in Escherichia coli), which interferes with binding of peptidyl-tRNA in the ribosomal P-site, showed drastically reduced peptidyl transferase activity, whereas clindamycin resistance mutation A2084G (A2058G in E. coli) rendered assembled subunits tolerant to clindamycin inhibition. Thus, reconstitution of functional subunits with in vitro-transcribed rRNA makes possible the use of in vitro genetics for mutational analysis of 23S rRNA functions in translation. In addition, the ability to assemble catalytically active 50S subunits flora the rRNA transcript lacking any posttranscriptional modifications clearly demonstrates that modified nucleotides in 23S rRNA are dispensable for the principal activities of the ribosome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1780-1788
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Feb 1999
Externally publishedYes


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